Moog Theremini Owners

Posted: 10/25/2014 3:22:54 AM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 7/29/2014

OK. I took the new Theremini editor and loaded up the default theremin patch and played around with filtering and some other parameters and created a new never before heard Theremini patch with a bit of singing weepiness to it which I thought would be good for Dido's Lament.

Then I calibrated the Theremini in a way that I know will work for me and set up my Theremini for a limited range that made sense (lets remember what Clara said about three octaves).

Fired up Cubase where I had the sampled string track I used for my Etherwave performance and played in a Theremini performance (pitch correction knob all the way to the left). Put the Antares Warm plugin on this (tube saturation simulator) and Antares Duo (vocal doubler) and of course added some convolution reverb. In other words the same kind of thing I do when I use the Etherwave. [Sweetwater is selling all these Antares tools for $24 a piece if you are interested]

Sure. It's not perfect with less than three months playing these two instruments. But you know what? it's just as good and interesting as the Theremin versions I've been able to do so far. In some ways it actually has more humanity to it as I created the sound expressly for this piece with the Theremini editor.

Dido's Lament - Theremini Version

Folks. I have a doctorate in music for crying out loud and I can assure you the Theremini is no toy. It's a perfectly useful musical instrument. It's just not an Etherwave. Keep that in mind and you can have a great musical experience with it. And knowing Moog, its only going to get better and better as they improve it.

I agree, maybe not the ideal instrument for the professional precision thereminist. But that is not the market for this. Like any instrument, you need to know its strengths and limitations.

I hope we can start to have some meaningful and fruitful discussions about the Theremini the way we do all the time with theremins here.




Posted: 10/25/2014 4:04:09 AM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

"I'm trying to be a rational voice here to foster everyone coming to TW and feeling they have a place to engage in conversation that can help them better use their instruments." - Rich.

Sorry Rich,

But I really cannot see your point at all.

There are people at TW who own EW's and EW+, and EW Pro's, and Wavefronts, and Keppingers, and Jaycars, and SubScope's, and RCA's, and Harrisons, and Enkelaars and probably half a dozen others..

None of these require a special exclusive 'zone' to discuss how to play them - They are all theremins, the same rules and techniques apply to them all... I dont think you will find even one thread on TW devoted to playing any specific theremin - there are threads devoted to the specific design or electronics, but when it comes to playing the damn things, there should be no need for any theremin owner to need a specific thread.

There are things that weren't theremins which have popped up in the past, there have been unplayable "instruments" that were not worthy of discussion and were binned.. Until now, evolution has worked - the dross has been filtered out.

If the theremini is a theremin, then it should be possible to "relate" to it as a theremin, no special techniques should be required in order to play it, and therefore no special zone or privileges should apply to it.

If its not a theremin, then perhaps a dedicated thread for it on TW isnt justified.

Damn it! Thierry was right! The theremini shouldn't even have been mentioned on TW, and all our discussion of it has done is to open the doors of TW to it.


"(lets remember what Clara said about three octaves)"

yes, lets remember! - In her interview on the Moog DVD she clearly states that Lev Theremin engineered her instrument specifically to extend the range from 3 octaves to 5 octaves. ( He also engineered it to reduce the volume latency - if there had been pitch latency, the theremin would probably never have made it past Lev's meeting with Vladimir Lenin ;-) .

Posted: 10/25/2014 4:57:06 AM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 7/29/2014

The point is that it is an instrument. A perfectly fine instrument. A perfectly playable instrument A fun and enjoyable instrument. it is just not an Etherwave. it will in the end lead to new and better Theremins.

This thread was supposed to be a meaningful discussion for Theremini owners to discuss their experiences. But the Theremini haters polluted it in ten seconds. If folks want to be exclusionary and only want to talk about what they perceive as theremins and don't care or want Theremini owners to join TW and have meaningful discussion that can really enhance TW and bring it a wider audience and wish the Theremini was never was brought up? Fine. 

I'll find a better more inclusionary forum.  I was trying to bring a fresh mindset to TW. Experiment with different things. I see now this is no place for anyone really interested in a meaningful discussion of music as applied to the Theremin. It's a pretty nasty place at times and not my cup of tea. 

Unbelievable that Theremini owners can get together here and have a meaningful discussion with each other when it's blinking at us 24/7 in the upper right hand corner.



Posted: 10/25/2014 9:57:16 AM

From: Colmar, France

Joined: 12/31/2007

IMHO, the Theremini does absolutely not fit into the genealogical line of Theremins as we know and play them since 1919.

There have always been approaches to use alternative technologies, be it by Martin Taubmann, Konstantin Kovalsky, or also by Dr. Robert Moog with the Series 91 and the Ethervox Theremins, and by Anthony Henk with the later models he built mainly for the BBC. But for the experienced player, all these felt more or less like an "original" theremin. The Theremini simply doesn't, which makes that it excludes itself from the lineup. All it has in common is the capacitance based gesture control, but behind it is clearly a synthesizer and not a theremin. Thus, it should rather be discussed in a Synth forum, I think.

I see no interest in a flame war between Thermini lovers and haters here on theremin world. This is a forum about Theremins. It is not a synthesizer forum. Thus, as far as I am concerned, the Theremini has still to find its place in the world, and I'm not sure if this place is here. Nothing against constructive and rational discussions. But if this thread continues to drift into emotional or even religious/fanatic waters, I will put on my admin suit (which I do rarely enough) and close it.

Posted: 10/25/2014 2:07:25 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 7/29/2014

This is my last discussion of this matter. And after this I am leaving TW as it is way to intolerant a place for me. A place not interested in the future. 

It's not a flame war. This thread was begun by a Theremini owner wanting to discuss the instrument in a positive manner and TW members rejected the idea that this is place that can happen. It's clear they do not want Theremini owners to come here. They will insert negativism at any chance they can to try and drive Thereminis and the topic in general away (even though it just about their most popular topic). The Theremini owner is told basically they wish the Theremini was never born.

TW has invented a new thing: Instrument Racism. Unbelievable.

If TW is only a place for discussion on what "the experts" say is a theremin. Fine.


What do you think a Theremini owner thinks when they come here? Wow, Flashing Theremini! This is the place for me. Turns out they will be sorely surprised. 

TW needs to take a long hard look at themselves. They keep asking, how can we become more relevant? How can we get more members? And the first thing they do is make a concerted effort to drive away the one segment of the Theremin community (though some may not think that) that has the best chance of expanding their membership.

TW it turns out is really only a club for 20 or so people that are resistant to change and can't see the best hope for the future of the theremin is for the Theremini to be successful. Without Moog, there would not be much of a Theremin community to begun with.

And my last words: IT IS IN FACT A DIGITAL THEREMIN!!! There's tons of discussion here on digital theremins. It's the most read topic! I can't understand why you think the Theremini has no place here.

I'll now go find a forum that is tolerant to all notions of what a Theremin is.




Posted: 10/25/2014 3:56:39 PM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

I wish there was no flashing theremini.

I wish there wasn't a Moog dictated sales "review" on TW.

I wish Moog had spent that money on engineering a good theremin rather than dishonestly promoting their new gesturaly  controlled synthesis app as a theremin.

This "club of 20" has had 4 new arrivals since the theremini appeared on the market who had bought these things - Two of these came here with first posts which were trolling and nothing else, this leaves two of whom you are one.

I am really sorry to see you go, and I do not understand the change in your perspective from

"1. The Thermini is kind of cool - but not for being something that is going to help me learn the theremin. I view it as a totally different animal. It's a tool to use to get effects using some Animoog sounds and as a controller."

"2. What it isn't (contrary to the marketing) is a good tool to help you learn the theremin."

" 4. But the absolute worst thing about the Theremini is that if I had bought it first I might have given up on the instrument and never known the joy of playing a real theremin - as it's darned near impossible to play the Theremini as a "classical instrument" in theremin mode."


to your position today where you imply only that it is:   "maybe not the ideal instrument for the professional precision thereminist" but that it is suitable for everyone else.

When I tell someone that if they want to play a theremin, their best option is to sell their theremini and buy an EW, I am branded a "theremini hater" - but look what you said!

" I'm so glad I bought the Etherwave first. Anyone who wants to learn the Theremin should just go get themselves the real thing and be prepared to struggle like everyone else. The reward comes in the practice." !

Those were YOUR words! I never said anything nearly as strong to Gary, but I got lambasted! -  its a shame IMO that you got sidetracked down the theremini dead end.. Its a shame perhaps the Theremini promoting trolls didnt find your post first and jump on you! LOL ;-)

When people who have never experienced racism start throwing it as abuse at others, I start to get really angry though! - Man, you really do know how to push some buttons! If I was to insist that I should be allowed a room in a bowling club where me and my mates could play darts, and then accused them of "sport implement racism" when they refused, I would probably be sectioned under the mental health act!

Far from being "not interested in the future" its the future which this is all about - A future where the theremin possibly survives versus one where it has been replaced by something else - something far inferior! (or at least something that was NOT a THEREMIN)


"And my last words: IT IS IN FACT A DIGITAL THEREMIN!!! There's tons of discussion here on digital theremins. It's the most read topic! I can't understand why you think the Theremini has no place here."

Because the Theremini is NOT a "DIGITAL THEREMIN" - Its digital, but it is not a theremin! - And I need to correct the "no place here" - It might have a "place" - But NOT a place where it is touted as a theremin and people are prohibited from stating that it is not a theremin or prohibited from advising those who want to play the theremin that the theremini cannot do this! When someone demonstrates their hopeless attempt at playing the theremini like a theremin, telling them that they cannot play it like a theremin, and that if they want to play a theremin then their best bet is to get a real theremin - That is legitimate! To be abused for making such a statement because the thread is "reserved" for positive comment about the theremini - That is OUTRAGEOUS!

If an engineer sets out to design an electronic instrument to (say) emulate a piano, and chooses digital technology to do this, they will be setting out to design a "digital piano"

If the instrument they end up developing has a fastest attack time of 100ms, then it WONT BE A DIGITAL PIANO!  It wont matter that it has the same "interface" (keyboard), or that it makes cool string sounds!

For the same kind of reason, the Theremini IS NOT A DIGITAL THEREMIN !!!!!!!! - And calling it a digital theremin (if there is any sanity in the world, which I am starting to doubt..) wont make it a theremin, digital or otherwise any more than calling the "digital piano" described above a "digital piano" will make it a "piano" - digital or otherwise!

THE Theremini CANNOT BE PLAYED LIKE A THEREMIN! THAT IS WHY IT PROBABLY DOESNT HAVE A PLACE HERE! (at the least, there is no way such things should have any exemption from criticism, particularly if touted as theremins or people are being misled into believing they can be played like theremins)  - and likewise, any other instrument or toy, digital or analogue, which isn't playable as a theremin, IMO shouldn't automatically be welcomed here.

There are some basic things that underpin what a theremin is, These were implicit in Lev Theremins original design, and when technology changed Dr Bob Moog identified and defined these clearly, and complied with these requirements on every theremin he developed (regardless of whether the design used Lev's topology or drove a CV subtractive synthesis engine) . Bob Moog identified and declared the most important feature of the theremin as its immediacy - the instant control of pitch by the player - ANY observable / limiting latency and the thing is not a theremin!

So sorry, you may have a doctorate in music - that does not give you the right to dictate (after owning an etherwave and theremini for less than 6 months) that the theremini is a theremin. The qualifications specified by Dr Bob Moog (who has designed and produced more theremins than any person on this planet) clearly and absolutely put the theremini far outside the scope of what a theremin can ever be. Dr Bob Moog did not specify that the sound engine must be heterodyning, he did not specify that the sound engine must be analogue, but he did specify that pitch response must be immediate! If you read what Bob says about the theremin, it is this one thing - the freedom and fluid instantaneous control of the pitch - which sets the theremin apart from all other electronic musical instruments.

When it comes to which doctor I would go to for advice, I would choose Dr Bob Moog! (but sadly he is no longer with us, if he had been the theremini would probably never have existed, and if it had somehow been produced, it would not be sold as a theremin! - Bob would never have allowed the Moog name to go on such a thing and certainly not if it was being touted as a theremin!)

The reason why there is a long digital theremin development thread on TW is because it is challenging to meet the requirements to produce a digital theremin that qualifies as a theremin - Dewster has actually gone to the length of developing a cray-like barrel processor in an FPGA so that the processing can be speeded up..

ANY of the engineers here could have produced a thing with 100ms latency! - In fact, its something even a hobbyist with an Ardiuino could knock together. This is one of the reasons for the upset IMO - Because Moog has CHEATED - They have brought an unplayable 100ms latency (1/10th of a second!)  thing to market, lied about it (claiming it is at least 1000 times faster than it is!) , and called it a (digital) "theremin".

Just as the "digital piano" described above might be useful perhaps as a string synthesiser, the theremini may be useful in some music making capacity - that is not the argument! The argument is that the theremini is being promoted and sold as a theremin - It cannot be a theremin any more than a keyboard with a minimum 100ms attack time can be a piano! - To have any chance of being a piano, the attack time would need to be reduced to 10ms or less, To have any chance of being a theremin, the Theremini's pitch latency would need to be reduced well below 10ms.

Your words about your Theremini :

" it's darned near impossible to play the Theremini as a "classical instrument" in theremin mode."

"if I had bought it first I might have given up on the instrument and never known the joy of playing a real theremin"

"not for being something that is going to help me learn the theremin"

"It's a tool to use to get effects using some Animoog sounds and as a controller."

And finally, again ,  your words:


Bottom Line: When I want to play Theremin and improve my technique, I'll go to my Etherwave. When I want to create Animoog effects or want a more portable Theremin-like controller, I'll use the Theremini. But never the twain shall meet.



(I almost wonder if the theremini has some subliminal hypnotic messages embedded in its wave-tables! It seems to have a disordering effect on the brains of people who listen to it too much! ;-)

Posted: 10/25/2014 6:04:12 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

Rich, you seem like a nice guy and I was sincerely enjoying your posts.  I wish you good luck and hope you find a more amenable environment in which to share your music and ideas. 

The Theremin pond seems kinda tiny though, so you'll likely encounter many of the same folks - as well as the "but is it a REAL Theremin?" squabble - wherever you go.

Posted: 10/27/2014 3:32:47 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

As a multi-instrumentalist, I have been involved with a number of musical SIGs (Special Interest Groups) over the years, and the community of thereminists is pleasant walk down Primrose Lane compared to many of the groups dedicated to traditional instruments. 


I am reminded of something the late concert pianist, Leonard Pennario, once told me. Leonard was for many years the only permanent member of the judging panel for the VAN CLIBURN INTERNATIONAL PIANO COMPETITION. I shall paraphrase what he said: "The problem with the judges is that they all belong to different schools of piano and keyboard technique. The moment they see that a young competitor comes from a particular conservatory and has studied with a teacher of whose methods they disapprove, all sorts of prejudices kick in and they become instantly deaf to the music. The winner of the competition ends up being someone nobody has ever heard of, who comes from a school of music the judges are unfamiliar with, and who studied with a teacher who is entirely unknown. The winner is Miss Chiang Wen Shi, from the Conservatory of the City of Cho Jian, and who studied with professor Fang Dzu Wah. It's not that Miss Shi was the best or most gifted of the competitors. She won first prize because she was the only person there that everyone could agree not to reject for entirely partisan reasons!"

Posted: 10/27/2014 4:58:47 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

People seem to have a hard time separating the subjective from the objective, and the longer I live the more I think Gene Roddenberry was really onto something with his "logical vs. emotional" themes.

Any time there is a subjective element in a group there is no right answer (which is not to say there are no wrong answers) and the most you can hope for is consensus that doesn't personally drive you insane or tear the group apart.

I deal with emotionalism all the time in my other, non-musical volunteering capacity (where I generate and format printed promo materials, among other responsibilities).  I like to think I have a thick skin when it comes to others critiquing my artistic creations, but it's hard to maintain at times.  But the most trouble I have is in trying to cajole others, who often have less layout experience (and not that I'm a world expert by any means) into changing their creative output (which represents us all) into making things clearer, cheaper to print, etc. where emotions can run so high they can tarnish the experience for everyone involved.  But I have to keep remembering the activities of the organization are noble, bigger than me, worth walking on eggshells now and then, and that any group endeavor is inevitably fraught with woe and inefficient compromise, while simultaneously filled with camaraderie and accomplishment.

That said, I prefer to operate as alone as possible when it comes to just about everything as it skirts the heartache and coordination overhead which saps the time and energy I can otherwise spend creatively.

Posted: 10/28/2014 12:00:33 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Very beautifully put, Doos!


Have you ever considered spending some time at the Vulcan monastery at P'Jem?

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